By ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Published: 3/15/2012##10:33 AM
Last Modified: 3/15/2012##10:31 PM
An 85-year-old Tulsa woman who was beaten along with her husband during a home-invasion robbery died Thursday evening, police reported.
Nancy Strait died at a hospital about 7:30 p.m., Sgt. Dave Walker said.
On Thursday afternoon, police had gotten their first break in the investigation when the couple’s stolen car was found, and one suspect was arrested on a murder complaint that evening, Walker said.
That suspect, Tyrone Woodfork, was driving the car when it was stopped by police in the 5700 block of East Easton Street, Walker said.
The daughter of Nancy and Bob Strait, 90, had found the couple unresponsive on the floor of their house in the 3300 block of East Virgin Street about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, police said.
The daughter had visited them at their home about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, and the robbery could have happened any time between those visits, police said.
Investigators believe that the couple were left for dead and might have been there for hours after at least one person kicked in their door, beat them and stole their car and several other possessions.
Bob Strait remained in serious condition Thursday at St. John Medical Center, and it was not clear whether he would survive, police said.
“Clearly the individuals that committed this crime are, in one word, evil,” Officer Jason Willingham said. “The type of beating that they inflected upon these people — it was severe.”
Investigators suspect that there were multiple robbers and do not think they knew the couple. Willingham said the extent of the couple’s injuries indicates that they might have been beaten with a weapon.
But police had little other information until the stolen car was found.
Investigators had limited success Thursday interviewing Bob Strait, who reportedly was in and out of consciousness at the hospital.
Police had pinned their hopes on finding the couple’s car, a rust-colored 2001 Dodge Neon, and had released its description through the media, Willingham said.
“You’re talking about a 90-year-old man who’s been severely beaten,” he said. “How much is he going to be able to recall? There are going to be clues in that vehicle.”
Walker said someone spotted the car in the 3500 block of East Fourth Street and called 911. Police then stopped the car on Easton.
The vehicle was occupied by Woodfork and a woman, Walker said. Woodfork went into a house, which was then surrounded by police officers, he said.
Police took Woodfork, who will turn 20 on Sunday, and three other people to the Detective Division for interviews. Detectives then served search warrants at several locations and recovered evidence, Walker said.
As a result of that evidence, police believe that Woodfork is “a principle suspect in this crime,” Walker said.
It was not clear late Thursday whether the other three who were questioned were released.
As police searched for the stolen car earlier Thursday, Willingham said that “it’s important for us to get these guys off the streets as quickly as possible.”
“Anybody that is capable of this type of crime is capable of anything, and that’s the way we’re approaching it.”
Neighbors described the Straits as sweet and reserved and said they had trouble hearing and seeing.
Karen Botz, who has lived next door to the couple for 25 years, said they kept to themselves but often talked with her and her husband over the fence.
“I’m infused with anger right now,” she said. “I could not even fathom a reason to do this. What’s a 90-year-old man going to do? Slap you?”
She said she had an alarm system installed Thursday and was planning to start a neighborhood watch program because “there’s too much of this stuff going on in Tulsa right now.”
“I can’t think that there would be anything worthy enough to take from an elderly couple here,” she said. “A rational person doesn’t do that.”
Thelma Lester, who lives down the street from the Straits, said she was shocked to hear of the home invasion because the area is normally quiet.
“When things like that happen so close, it makes you wonder, ‘When’s it going to happen next?’ ” she said. “All we can do is just hope it doesn’t happen to the rest of us.”
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